[meteorite-list] Launch of Japanese Asteroid Probe Delayed to December 3
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2014 00:05:49 -0800 (PST)
Launch of Japanese asteroid probe delayed
by Stephen Clark
November 30, 2014
Poor weather at the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan has grounded until
at least Wednesday the launch of a $300 million robotic mission to fly
to an asteroid, pick up samples and return them to Earth.
The launch was supposed to take off Sunday, but the Japan Aerospace Exploration
Agency announced two delays after forecasts called for thick clouds that
could generate lightning and strong winds at Tanegashima Island in southwest
The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft is mounted on top of an H-2A rocket inside a
cavernous launcher assembly building at Tanegashima. It will roll to the
launch pad when the weather forecast improves.
JAXA said in a statement Sunday the liftoff was rescheduled for no earlier
than Wednesday at 0422:04 GMT (11:22:04 p.m. EST Tuesday).
The Hayabusa 2 mission is awaiting launch on a six-year roundtrip journey
to an asteroid. It carries an array of scientific instrumentation and
devices to collect gravely rock from the asteroid, which scientists believe
is rich in carbon and may harbor the building blocks of life.
The probe's destination is asteroid 1999 JU3, an object that likely
stretches several blocks across and remains unexplored by any spacecraft.
Hayabusa 2 will reach the object in June 2018, survey the asteroid, drop
robotic landers and collect samples for a year-and-a-half, then head back
to Earth and parachute to a landing in the Australian outback in December
It follows Japan's Hayabusa 1 mission, which completed its journey to
an asteroid and back in 2010. But Hayabusa 1 ran into several problems,
including a fuel leak and a failure in its sampling system, and the spacecraft
only brought back a tiny fraction of the material intended.
But Hayabusa 1 achieved several firsts. The microscopic samples the craft
did retrieve were the first rock fragments ever returned to Earth from
Hitoshi Kuninaka, JAXA's Hayabusa 2 project manager, said the mission
has until Dec. 9 to launch and reach its target on the planned schedule.
The next launch window for Hayabusa 2 is in June 2015.
Received on Mon 01 Dec 2014 03:05:49 AM PST